Wakefield Councillors Stand up to Green Washing and Emotional Bullying tactics

By stoplenchwickwindfarm | April 7, 2009

Wakefield to miss green energy targets, as sole scheme rejected

06-04-09

Original post here: NewEnergyFocus

Wakefield metropolitan district council is going to fail its renewable energy targets, according to a wind farm developer that is appealing a 12MW project rejected by planners.

The council, which has no large-scale renewable energy projects installed its area, has been set a target of fostering 10.7MW of renewable energy generation inside its borders by 2010.

But, as its planning committee turned down the only wind farm proposal for the area last month, council officers also warned that the council would be "unlikely" to hit its targets.

The rejected proposal was a six-turbine wind farm for Westfield Lane, south-east of Pontefract.

Planners described wind turbines as "intrusive and oppressive", but Banks Developments, the County Durham-based company behind the proposal, believes it has grounds for an appeal.

However, even if the appeal is successful, the company said having rejected the Westfield Lane proposal at this stage, the authority’s 2010 target would now be missed.

Phil Dyke, managing director at Banks Developments, said on Friday: "The initial refusal of the scheme means that it will not now be possible to do this by the government’s 2010 deadline, as we had hoped, but as there are no other live renewable energy schemes in the area, it is not a target that the council is going to hit anyway."

Targets

The regional spatial strategy for West Yorkshire states that Wakefield is not expected to have much renewable energy capacity, but does set the 2010 target and a 41MW target for 2021 for the district.

The co-firing at Ferrybridge power station does not count to Wakefield’s own targets, but to the wider West Yorkshire targets.

Wakefield’s planning officers did state that there was one other wind energy proposal for the area of a similar scale – that for the ASDA warehouse in Normanton – but suggested this faced opposition from the Ministry of Defence and National Highways.

The Westfield Lane proposal would have involve six turbines of 2MW, with the total capacity of 18MW, built across 26 hectares of farmland. Each turbine would have had a height to the tip of 125 metres.

The authority had received 2270 letters of objection from local residents, including the Pontefract Wind Farm Action Group, along with 835 letters of support.

"Council officers in Wakefield disagreed with each other over whether the environmental benefits of wind turbines were enough to override development restrictions for green belt sites as stated in government planning policy"

Green Belt

The plans for the wind farm were turned down by Wakefield planners on March 5, who said the project was contrary to the government’s planning policy guidance (PPG 2) for Green Belt sites.

"Because of their scale and appearance, and the movement of the blades, the turbines would appear intrusive and oppressive in the outlook from nearby properties to an extent that would cause harm to the amenity of residents," the planners concluded.

Planning officers had advised that the government’s PPG2 document did not include renewable energy projects as an appropriate development for Green Belt sites, but that the wider environmental benefits of renewable energy could be taken as being "very special circumstances".

Wakefield’s own spatial policy officer stated that the renewable energy benefits "could constitute very special circumstances"

The officer stated:

"It is unlikely that other renewable technologies are likely to come forward in the near future which are capable of producing sufficient energy to meet the targets. In view of this the proposal should be supported unless there are exceptional overriding reasons of public interest not to do so."

However, other officers overruled his opinion and the project was recommended for refusal – a recommendation backed by councillors.

Appeal

Banks Developments, which pointed out that Wakefield’s renewable energy targets "will increase from 2020", has confirmed it is making an appeal, which it now expects to be heard this summer.

The company said it had reviewed the reasons behind the planning rejection and felt it had "firm grounds" for its appeal.

Mr Dyke said: "We still firmly believe the Westfield Lane wind farm would make a strong contribution to meeting West Yorkshire’s need to generate power from renewable sources without producing harmful greenhouse gases, and that it is one of the most suitable sites from which local renewable energy targets could be delivered."

Plans for a 60m high wind-measuring mast at the site were rejected by council planners back in 2007, but that judgement was overturned by the planning inspector at the end of the year.

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